Dependency Advocacy Center (DAC) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization providing free legal services to indigent parents and children involved with the child welfare system in Santa Clara County. Our clients may face the removal of their children due to allegations of abuse and neglect. Approximately 80% of the petitions filed by the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) include substance abuse by at least one parent. This prevalent issue is often coupled with and exacerbated by domestic violence and/or mental health concerns.
If an indigent parent appears at court and requests counsel, the Juvenile Court will appoint DAC for representation with limited exception. DAC’s mandate is to provide legal representation at all uncontested hearings, specialty court hearings, mediations, settlement conferences, and trials. In addition to the required and extensive court appearances, representation also includes activities, such as client interviews, ongoing case assessment, investigation, settlement discussions, legal research and writing, witness and trial preparation. Further, in partnership with DFCS, DAC attorneys present the legal education portion at over 75 English and Spanish Parent Orientation classes each year reaching hundreds of parents and caregivers who are or may soon be involved in the child welfare system.
DAC has a passion for helping this underserved population as well as a strong belief that due process is of paramount importance in these highly sensitive cases. Along with asserting precise legal strategies, DAC employs in-house social workers and Mentor Parents to serve families in an innovative and comprehensive manner. This multi-pronged approach to advocacy, which focuses on both protecting the client’s legal rights while simultaneously engaging the client to better his or her circumstances, is targeted toward making the family whole again.
DAC attorneys are among the most experienced dependency attorneys in Santa Clara County. Each lawyer’s experience level exceeds the minimum competency requirements for court appointed attorneys pursuant to the California and Santa Clara County Rules of Court. Continuing legal education is a priority for DAC and our attorneys receive regular case law and statutory updates, trial skills trainings, and instruction on topics relevant to the dependency practice.
To learn more about DAC’s legal services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .